Great stuff from Nathan here, so I've promoted this FanPost to the center column - Dirk
Hello On The Forecheck readers. My name is Nathan Wells and I'm the assistant editor over at SBN Minnesota (along with many other things). One of the things I do there is write about University of Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey and thought it would be great this year to try to give NHL fanbases updates on the many Gophers draftees. Sometimes box scores can be deceiving or do not tell the whole story so here is one person's first-hand account on Nashville prospect Zach BudishMinnesota opened the season against Sacred Heart this weekend, which for those who don't follow college hockey is the equivalent of a BCS football team opening the season against Middle Tennessee State or another team with a hyphen and directional location. The Gophers won 9-0 Friday night and 6-0 Saturday with Budish scoring a goal and two assists in his return from an ACL injury.
Zach spent both games this weekend on the top line with Florida Panthers prospects Kyle Rau and Nick Bjugstad along with playing on the point of the second power play unit. The top line, especially Rau and Budish, showed a lot of chemistry for the Gophers this weekend. Friday night's game saw Budish with two primary assists as he was the catalyst for multiple scoring chances, including getting absolutely robbed by the Pioneers goalie, and frustrated Sacred Heart's defense.
The line wasn't as sharp Saturday night as Sacred Heart put extra focus on shutting down Budish, Bjugstad and Rau but Zach was able to get his first goal in close to a year in the third period on the power play. He was fairly active the entire game on both ends of the ice - Zach excelled at using his 6'3", 214 lb body - and I have to think getting the goal was a huge relief.
As far as the knee, it didn't seem to give Budish any problems and he indicated as much after the game. Still, it takes time to get back in hockey shape after recovering from an ACL injury so his performance this season will be interesting to follow given his size and draft position. How Zach plays should be instrumental in how well the Gophers play this season and while this week was closer to a warm-up, it was a good experience for both Budish and Minnesota.
All in all, it was a good weekend for Zach Budish. If you have any questions I'll be sure to answer them either on here or on Twitter. Next weekend will give a better idea of where the two are, as the Gophers play the defending national champions Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, but for now there is plenty for Predators fans to be happy with (I mean besides the great NHL team, Shea Weber and even Craig Smith coming out of nowhere).
Also, here's a quick snippet of Budish after Friday night's game (video from Gophers Athletics):